Telugu Surges to 11th Most-Spoken Foreign Language in USA, Driven by Student and Community Growth

Featured & Cover Telugu Surges to 11th Most Spoken Foreign Language in USA Driven by Student and Community Growth

Telugu has surged to become the 11th most-spoken foreign language in the United States, according to a report by the Times of India (TOI), reflecting significant growth in the Telugu-speaking community. Among Indian languages in the US, Telugu ranks third, trailing only Hindi and Gujarati.

A statistical analysis based on data from the US Census Bureau reveals that the Telugu-speaking population has expanded dramatically, growing from 320,000 in 2016 to 1.23 million in 2024, nearly a four-fold increase. This population encompasses fourth-generation immigrants as well as new arrivals, including students.

California is home to the largest concentration of Telugu speakers, with 200,000 individuals, followed by Texas with 150,000, and New Jersey with 110,000. Other states with notable Telugu populations include Illinois (83,000), Georgia (52,000), and Virginia (78,000). These estimates are corroborated by Telugu community associations in the United States.

A significant factor contributing to Telugu’s status as the 11th most spoken foreign language out of 350 languages in the US is the influx of students. The TOI report highlights that approximately 60,000 to 70,000 students and 10,000 H1B visa holders from Telugu-speaking regions arrive in the US each year.

Ashok Kolla, former Secretary of the Telugu Association of North America, stated to TOI that 80% of new arrivals in the US register with his organization. He also mentioned that around 75% of these individuals eventually settle in the US, particularly in areas such as Dallas, the Bay Area, North Carolina, New Jersey, Atlanta, Florida, and Nashville.

The demographics of the Telugu community in the US show a divide between older and younger generations. The older generation largely comprises entrepreneurs, while 80% of the younger population is engaged in the IT and finance sectors.

The Indian Mobility Report of 2024 underscores the prominence of Telugu-speaking students in the US. Students from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh make up the largest group of Indian students in the country, accounting for 12.5% of the total Indian student population.

At Kent State University, new students receive welcome pamphlets featuring greetings in Telugu, reflecting the growing presence and influence of the Telugu-speaking community in American educational institutions, as reported by TOI.

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